Consistent with the most recent research in brain science on fear and happiness, this imaginative tale gift wraps all the power of a groundbreaking self-help book into one rollercoaster of a story. Colorful, thought-provoking lessons stay with the reader long after finishing the last page.
A car accident leaves Liza, a successful single mom, unconscious. Trapped inside her subconscious and hijacked by her imagination, Liza learns firsthand how her thinking shapes her life. Her thoughts carry her away to dangerous and mysterious places, each gifting a lesson of how fear influences her thoughts, beliefs and the fullness of love in her relationships. Happiness, she discovers, is a function of her thinking. During her journey Liza uncovers secrets to rid herself of the fear-based behaviors that are inconsistent with her true self. To her delight, breaking free from the shackles of fear is simpler than she ever dreamed.
Happiness is just a thought away...with practice.
The book serves as an ongoing resource for those interested in the art of intentional living.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.34(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Asleep at the Wheel
Today, unlike any day, today, like every other, my thoughts run me. The chatter in my head pulls in one direction while something deep within nudges in another. One voice is vocal and incessant, the other an occasional whisper, one used to calling the shots, the other accustomed to being ignored.
A sharp pain shoots between my temples as I dash to the parking lot, a reminder, I tell myself, of the insanity of back-to-back meetings, each running just enough over to make me late for the next, with too little food and too much caffeine in between. Erica's early morning swim practice, deadlines at work, Jackson's parent-teacher conference, dinner, homework ...
Not enough time. Too much to do.
The clicks of my heels on the pavement warn a young mother and her daughter several yards ahead of me of my hurried approach. The mother pulls her daughter close to her, steps back, and yields the sidewalk to me. She fires a glare of disapproval as I go by. "Sorry!" I offer over my shoulder without slowing. "Thank you!"
The sight of my once-again fit body in motion reflected in the deli window sparks a surge of pride and vengeful glee. My overstuffed laptop case swings from one shoulder. My purse sways from the other. The rhythmic flapping of my necklace matches my gait and the bounce of my breasts. Divorce suits me. In the next pane of glass, I detect a jiggle in my reflection where none should be. My smile disappears and takes the spring in my step with it.
I reach the car, toss my bags onto the passenger seat, scan the back seat for the boogeyman, and ignore my growling stomach and ringing phone as I pull out of the parking lot. The clock on the dashboard chides me that it is 3:55. Jackson's school is fifteen minutes away.
The thought of arriving late to my son's parent-teacher conference makes me cringe. I can see it now. My perfectionist ex-husband will glance up at the clock when I enter the classroom. He'll shake his head and roll his eyes in mock disbelief, then let out a sigh as he wraps a protective arm around our son. The teacher, already won over by Michael's charms, will avoid eye contact with me, unwilling to let me off the hook for being late but too cowardly to confront me. And my sweet baby will have that helpless caught-in-the-middle look on his face — the one that breaks my heart.
I try to push the image of my son's conflicted face out of my mind. My imagination resists, running wild instead, fabricating one exaggerated scenario after another, details and outcome slightly altered, each prolonging my self-torment. In one scene I miss the conference altogether. In another, Jackson cries.
Why do I do this to myself?
I honk the horn at an idiot driver who causes me to miss the signal to enter the freeway.
Out the window, billowy white puffs of my favorite kind of cloud hang weightless in the blue sky. Cheerful clusters of pink and white azaleas in full bloom wave to me from the median. I am blind to their splendor. All I want is for the light to turn green.
Minutes later, I cruise down the freeway, lost in thought, my foot too heavy on the accelerator. What will I say to Jackson and his teacher? What excuse is good enough to earn me amnesty?
The ping of a new text message jolts me out of my mental merry- go-round. Without thinking I reach for my phone and read it.
"Need your final price sheet!" the message from my boss reads. In my haste to leave work, I forgot to forward the information my team needs for a sales proposal we have been working on for weeks.
"The deadline for submission is today," it reminds me.
I know I should pull over. But I don't. With my left hand on the steering wheel, I use my right to thumb a reply, glancing from road to phone, phone to road, correcting my path with a jerk whenever my Jeep wanders too close to the dotted lines.
I look up to see the blinking hazard lights of a stalled minivan in my lane. Car to the left of me. Truck on the right. Too fast. Too close. No options.
Panic explodes in my chest.
I can't bear to look. I've really done it this time.
Fumes of burning rubber reach my nostrils. I hear the crunch of metal against metal. Deep within me, a question awakes from its slumber.
What was I thinking?
White floods my entire field of vision. My muscles tighten in alarm — each of my senses on full alert. I strain to see something, hear something.
As my eyes acclimate to the brightness, I distinguish movement. All around me wisps of a thick white vapor dance and swirl like the inside of an opaque cloud lit up by the sun.
Where am I? At the same moment the question arises in my head, my own voice, although I have not spoken, thunders above me. "Where am I?" I look up in bewilderment and see a wisp of gray smoke appear and waft amid the white.
"What's that? Am I alive?" my next thoughts boom overhead. Two more gray wisps of smoke join the first to dance in the dazzling white.
"Did I die?" Another gray curl materializes.
"Oh my gosh, I hope I didn't kill someone! Please, no. Anything but that." More wisps, darker than the others.
That's my voice, I think.
"That's my voice," echoes at the same instant above me. Another gray wisp is born.
How can that be? I am not speaking!
"How can that be? I am not speaking!" resounds above with the same shakiness in my voice that exists in my head. Two new smoky wisps writhe in the white.
My thoughts? Out loud?
My mind races. Tightness spreads throughout my chest. My breath is shallow, my shoulders tense.
Why are my thoughts out loud and what are those gray swirls? Smoke? Does this mean I am alive? Oh, God. Please, please, don't tell me I'm dead. Or that I hurt someone. I hope I didn't hurt someone!
I hear my thoughts. Am I in a coma?
Panicky thoughts pop in visual gray bursts like monochrome fireworks as the words reverberate above me. Each grim thought seems to generate its own wisp of gray smoke.
"Is this a dream? Am I dreaming?" Silence.
Gray wisps collide and form bigger wisps.
"Hello? Is anyone out there?" I call out.
No one answers. My fear grows as the acrid smell of smoke stings the back of my throat.
Round and round my mind paces, like a trapped cougar circling its cage to find an escape. Fear fuels my thoughts; my thoughts fuel my fear. Am I alive? Am I dead? Where am I? How do I get out of here? I repeat the same unanswered questions in an endless treadmill of thoughts that lead to nowhere.
Smoke overtakes white and I begin to choke. Am I suffocating from my own dark thoughts?
The white is almost gone now.
"I am so afraid!"
I pause, struck by the truth of my admission, unspoken, as it booms through the air. The new gray wisp that accompanies this thought is indistinguishable from the others.
I am afraid.
In that moment I know what to do. The silent spawn of a single white wisp goes unnoticed.
As a young girl, my father taught me a technique to calm myself when I was frightened. I narrow my gaze to a single patch of white in the swirling, dancing gray. For a long time, I focus intensely on that little patch of white. Perfectly still, my breathing slows. The coughing stops.
I adjust my listening to ignore the ceaseless chatter of my noisy thoughts being broadcast from above and listen only for my heart. Alas, a faint tha-thump in my chest. A delicious feeling of relief expands from my heart outward.
I am alive.
Eyelids closed, I concentrate all my attention on following my breath. In and out.
I open my eyes and continue to follow my breath.
I expand my awareness to include both inside and outside myself, calm.
I adjust my attention to observe my fear-filled thoughts rather than be drawn into them. Maintaining my detachment, I note the cumulative impact the darkness of my thoughts has on my surroundings. Gray. Everywhere.
As I scan the gray, my skin prickles. I freeze. A presence. The thought registers in my mind and chimes above me as I lock eyes with another pair of eyes exactly like my own in the swirling gray.
"There You are!" a voice says to me.
In My Head
My broadcast thoughts and dilated pupils reveal my alarm to my guest.
Am I in danger?
"Trust yourself to know the answer, Liza," the voice says. "Are you in danger?"
Eyes anchored on eyes, not daring to move, I take deliberate inventory of my senses in search of an answer. My sense of sight, smell, and hearing are heightened. My body bristles with anticipation, ready to spring. But to my surprise, despite the perceived threat, I do not feel an immediate need to flee. Or fight. Or freeze. Or appease.
My gut tells me I am safe. Safer than I have ever been. My body wilts with relief. Tension carried for years in my neck and shoulders melts. The experience is foreign, exquisite.
With amazement, I answer, "No!" At the exact same time "No!" sounds above me, only louder.
"Jinx! You owe yourself a Coke!" the voice says. Eyes twinkle, their outer corners crinkling in amusement. Ah, humor — my preferred method for stress relief. I smile.
"There is rare cause for fear in the moment! The danger is almost always only in our head." The eyes glance upward. "In our thoughts."
I follow the eyes upward and ask at the same time my voice above asks, "Where am I?"
"Inside your own head, of course!" answers the voice. "You are in your mind!"
"Not out of your mind, thank goodness!" the voice chuckles.
"I'm not so sure," I say.
"Would you like the tour?"
"Tour? Tour of what?"
"A tour of the landscape of your mind! Your imagination!"
"Oh. I don't know. Maybe. I mean yes. I think so."
"Aah! Be careful with what you think! There is no telling where your thoughts will take you! It's best to stay here with me!"
"I don't understand. What do you mean, stay here with you? Where could I go?"
"In life, we go where our thoughts take us. Where you focus your attention determines your location. If you are not careful, one thought will lead to another and before you know it, poof! Your imagination will hijack you off to who knows where! So, watch which thoughts you cling to!"
"Wait." I squeeze my eyes shut and shake my head. "I am in my head? In my mind? With my thoughts?"
"But why?" I wonder out loud.
"Isn't that where you spend much of your life? In your head?"
"No!" I answer, just a bit too loud and much too quick. I bite the inside of my cheek, embarrassed at my quick defense of the familiar accusation.
"Well, sometimes," I concede, recalling a past memory, something my daughter once said to me in a heated moment in our kitchen. Was she right? I didn't think so at the time, but now I wonder. I stare at the eyes but I am no longer looking directly into them. My thoughts booming above now sound muffled.
"Stop! Let go of that thought! Don't let it take you away!" shouts the voice.
But it's too late.
I hear the voice trail, farther and farther in the distance.
The sensation like that of a warm bubble bath washes over me as the memory of my spat with Erica carries me far away.
I remember it as if was yesterday.
Lost in the Past
In an instant, I am standing in the middle of my old kitchen. The last rays of sun settle on the same stubborn wallpaper that took me days to peel off and replace with fresh paint.
The smells of fresh herbs, homemade lasagna, and garlic bread make my stomach growl in anticipation of enjoying Jackson's favorite dinner. Dirty dishes from preparing the meal soak in the old porcelain sink, the suds tainted with pink from the tomato sauce.
The air is tense as my daughter and I complete our ritual of setting the table, with me laying out the plates and napkins and Erica laying out the silverware, refusing to look at me. Each of us is acutely aware of the other's proximity and movements as we circle the table, like two wolves about to fight. The thought of another disagreement with her makes me want to crawl into a hole. With an important work assignment due the next morning, I halfway hope she will continue the silent treatment so I can work all evening in peace.
Erica lays down the final fork, ready for battle. Her stance is defiant and face contorted with anger. The teenage version of myself shrieks at the top of her voice, "Why can't I spend the night with Cheryl? What do you care, Mom? You're not even here when you're here! Your head is always buried in your laptop or you're doing some project! You wouldn't even notice if Jack and I were dead!"
"Don't be ridiculous!" I snap.
Her drama irritates me. The fact that her drama reminds me of myself irritates me even more. My voice rises. "You have no clue, Erica! Someone has to make sure you are fed. Someone has to make sure your homework is done! Someone has to work so you ..."
Midsentence there is a tiny pop. Incensed with my daughter's ingratitude, I ignore it and continue my rant. Little splatters of dark film from the burst bubble spray through the air. The memory fades. Erica and my house disappear. A sickening odor replaces the delicious aroma of our dinner. And the potent sensation I am floating in a warm bath returns. Along with it comes a flood of regret.
There are so many things I wish I had done differently.
Thick liquid laps gently against me. An unfamiliar hissing sound registers in my ears and snaps me from my reverie. With a clumsy splash, I manage to stand in the water, grateful I can touch the bottom.
What is going on? Where am I now? First I was in who-knows- smoky-where. The next minute I am in my old kitchen with my daughter. Now I am here. Where the heck is here?
"You are in your mind!" I recall the voice saying. Did my thoughts take me here?
I search for the eyes.
The warm bath, it turns out, is a vast steamy pool of murky water filled with thousands of bubbles. Several colorful ones float on the surface near me, their iridescent domes peeking mischievously through the murk, only to submerge back into the gloom a few seconds later. The warmth of the liquid feels silky against my skin, but its pea-green grayish color and a faint whiff of sulfur make me shudder. It is unsettling that I can't see my body just beneath the surface. Not knowing what creatures may lurk beneath, I pull up my feet and begin to tread water in a sludgy circle. Languid ripples travel outward as my arms and legs glide through the murky water and I take in my new surroundings.
Another hiss sounds in the distance. About a mile away, a cannonade of steam rises from an island of dark rocks that jut out of the muck. Seconds later, a massive fountain of water chases the steam, dwarfing the first eruption. Water shoots high in the air and then smashes back down onto the rocks, giving birth to new clouds of steam. Sulfurous vapor drifts toward me, thickening the air. Spellbound, I watch until the surge dies. Thin wisps of white vapor linger like smoke after fireworks. In the peace, beyond the island and geyser, the bright yellow-orange mineral rocks of the shore beckon.
Something ever so light brushes against my leg underneath the dark liquid. Unnerved, I kick my legs and wave my arms to ward off whatever touched me. A sly green bubble rises from the water, grows, and encloses me within it before I have time to resist. Within the bubble, another memory unfolds.
Curled on the couch, I stare at the screen of my laptop, deep in thought. The TV plays a Disney movie the three of us have seen a hundred times, so many I often sing along with the songs without even realizing I am doing so. I am vaguely aware of Jackson as he approaches the arm of the couch with his favorite toy in his hand. I read the email a second time, then click to see who is included on the distribution. My boss and all the other team leads are copied. My stomach lurches. In the background, Jackson whines.
"Just a sec." I read the email again. And again.
"I said just a second."
I hit reply all and craft my response. The force of my fingers as they hit the keys reveals my fury. I review my draft. Needs work. I edit it. Still not happy. I edit again. How could that jerk do this to me? I stop and stare at nothing in particular, motionless, lost in vengeful thoughts.
"But Mommy," Jackson's voice trembles.
"What?" I almost yell, my trance broken.
Jackson burst into tears. "Please, Mommy. It's bwoke." He holds up a piece of his toy in each hand.
I burst into tears. I scoop up my son and hold him close. "It's all right, bud. Mommy's sorry. Let's see if we can fix this."
The bubble bursts, promptly ending the memory. And I stand in the same spot, neck-deep in murky water, heartsick for Jackson, and wishing I could go back.
The bubbles are memories! I touch the nearest bubble, eager to return to my life. Within seconds, a cheerful pink bubble swallows me. Within it, time rewinds. Another memory begins to play.
Excerpted from "Journey Back To Me"
Copyright © 2017 SD Ferguson.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Asleep at the Wheel, 1,
2. Gray Thoughts, 5,
3. In My Head, 9,
4. Lost in the Past, 12,
5. Regaining Sight of the Shore, 17,
6. The What-if Worry Coaster, 27,
7. In the Now, 39,
8. The Landscape of My Mind, 48,
9. Unmerry-Go-Round, 54,
10. Hills and Holes, 56,
11. The Fruits We Bear, 60,
12. The Punishing Room, 64,
13. Mountain of Lies, 67,
14. The Bottomless Prayfors, 72,
15. Knowledge & Knowing, 77,
16. The Closet of My Mind, 82,
17. Insults, Injuries & Injustices, 86,
18. Context Lenses, 91,
19. Something to Wear, 107,
20. It's a Practice, 115,
21. Ready or Not, 118,
22. Code 1, 121,
Practice! Catch Yourself!, 126,
Reading Guide, 131,
About the Author, 135,